A quarter of Scotland’s 16- and 17-year-olds have joined a political party since the independence referendum, while two-thirds have been inspired by the campaign to find out more about politics, according to a poll.
The majority of first-time voters who took part in the online survey, conducted by the Scottish parliament’s devolution committee, said they wanted to be involved in future UK, Holyrood and council elections. Over-16s will be given the vote in next year’s Scottish parliamentary elections, following recommendations by the Smith commission.
In the poll, 85% of respondents said they agreed with the decision to give 16- and 17-year-olds the vote in last September’s referendum on Scottish independence. Since the referendum, 25% said they had taken part in some form of campaigning or political activity.
Nearly 80% of respondents said that during the referendum campaign they had watched one of the televised debates featuring the then first minister, Alex Salmond, and the Better Together leader, Alistair Darling, while nearly 40% had attended a campaign event in person. In addition, 35% said they had actively campaigned for a yes or no result.
Broadcast media was their main source of information about the campaign, but over half said they had also found out about the issues via social media, and nearly three-quarters through discussions with peers. Only 14% said they had felt badly informed about the major issues in the referendum campaign.
SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, convenor of the devolution committee, said: “We saw an unprecedented level of interest and democratic engagement around the referendum and the results of this survey provide further evidence of the energy and enthusiasm generated.
“It is quite clear that 16- and 17-year-olds welcomed the opportunity to have their say on their country’s constitutional future and now want a say in the elections that shape their lives and communities – it is now for politicians to respond positively to that democratic momentum.”
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